Wednesday 30 June 2021

KV's Replacements

 "To the Chief of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Korobkov
January 31st, 1941

I report the status of the work on the T-150 and T-220 tanks at the Kirov factory as of January 28th, 1941. The T-150 and T-220 tanks are still not ready for trials and have not been presented to the commission.

T-150 tank:

After replacing the engine that broke during factory breaking in on January 21st, 1941, the tank has still not been returned to a condition suitable for QA and Military Representative approval.
The gun mantlet design is unrefined and allows a gun depression of only 3 degrees as opposed to 6.5 degrees on blueprints.

T-220 tank:

The engine broke during factory breaking-in on January 25th, 1941. The experimental main bearings melted.
Presently, a new experimental engine is being installed on the tank. Chief Engineer of factory #75 comrade Chupakhin, currently at the Kirov factory, cannot vouch that the engines installed in T-150 and T-220 tanks will work.
Your decision is needed in equipping the T-150 and T-220 tanks with refined engines.

The T-150 and T-220 tanks were weighed on January 25th.
The combat weight of the T-150 is 50 tons 160 kg.
The combat weight of the T-220 is 62 tons 700 kg.

The GABTU's tactical-technical requirements give a limit of 48 tons for the T-150 and 56 tons for the T-220. I ask for your directions on whether or not it is sensible to put the T-150 and T-220 tanks through proving grounds trials if they do not meet the GABTU's requirements."

Via Padikovo museum

Monday 28 June 2021

Long-Awaited Success

The last two years of WW2 were difficult for American tank building. Their first few wartime tanks were quite modern and even surpassed those of leading tank building nations of the time, but a wave of failures followed, resulting in them falling behind. Mass production of the planned replacement of the Medium Tank M4 only began in November of 1944, and officially this was a heavy tank to boot. This article tells the tale of the M26 Pershing, a tank with a complex but ultimately successful history.

Friday 25 June 2021

Pre-War Markings

The Red Army had no universal system of tank markings used during the Great Patriotic War, and commanders developed their own systems, sometimes changing them frequently to prevent the enemy from figuring them out. This was not the case before the war, as a standard system of markings was used.

Wednesday 23 June 2021

ZIS-6 Production

 "Decree of the Committee of Defense within the Council of Commissars of the USSR
Moscow, Kremlin
April 5th, 1941

Contents: on production of the 107 mm tank gun

The Committee of Defense decrees:

  1. Factory #92 (factory director comrade Elyan and chief designer comrade Grabin) is responsible for development of a 107 mm tank gun with a muzzle velocity of 800 m/s with a fixed ammunition fitting an armour piercing shell weighing 18.8 kg.
    Produce, test, and deliver an experimental prototype of this gun installed in a KV tank by May 20th.
  2. Kirov factory (comrade Zaltsman) and the Izhora factory are responsible for producing a gun mantlet for installation of the gun in a KV tank and delivery to factory #92 by May 10th.

Monday 21 June 2021

Intermediate Experiment

The American program to create a replacement for the Medium Tank M4 was a mess by the end of 1943.  Three types of medium tanks were being tested in parallel. These included the Medium Tanks T20 and T22. Two prototypes of each were built, and proven to be ultimately disappointing. There was also the Medium Tank T23. It turned out to be better than its competitors and even put into production, but it turned out that there were issues with using it. Finally, development of two more tanks was launched in May of 1943. This made for five medium tanks in development at the same time. This article will describe the fate of the Medium Tank T25, an intermediate vehicle.

Friday 18 June 2021

Running In

 "December 8th, 1944

Description of the running in process of rifle regiment personnel from the 60th Guards Pavlograd Order of the Red Banner Division with SU-76M SPGs conducted on November 11th, 1944.

Based on the enciphered telegram delivered from the 32nd Rifle Corps on November 6th, 1944, the division performed running in of rifle regiment personnel with SU-76M SPGs.

Wednesday 16 June 2021

KV-3 Gun Mount

 "I.V. Stalin factory #92

September 8th, 1941

To the Chief Engineer of the Chelyabinsk Factory, comrade Makhonin

We developed and are currently manufacturing a coaxial 45 mm gun for the 107 mm ZIS-6 gun mount. The DT coaxial machine gun remains in its old place.

The tactical purpose of such a weapon is obvious: to avoid wasting 107 mm ammunition on targets that could be defeated with a 45 mm gun.

As the factory doesn't have a KV-3 tank, the prototype will be installed in a KV-2 tank turret.

Your designer comrade Schneidman informed us that you are making a new turret for the KV-3. Due to the obvious advantage of having a 45 mm gun in the KV-3 and minor changes required to the turret as a result of using this mounting, we ask you to widen the gun port and change the frame and gun mantlet in accordance to the attached blueprints. We don't have blueprints for the new KV-3 turret and are still working with old ones, but that shouldn't matter in this case.

At the same time, we ask you to develop ammunition racks for 107 and 45 mm rounds in the KV-3 turret. For this reason, we attach a dimensional drawing of a 45 mm round.

Attached: draft drawing of the coaxial mounting on two pages, dimensional drawing of the 45 mm round.

Factory director Elyan
Chief designer Grabin"

Via Yuri Pasholok

Monday 14 June 2021

Germany and the T-34

The Wehrmacht was stuck at Moscow in the winter of 1941, and leadership of the Reich had time to think while its troops developed frostbite. The first encounters with the T-34 and KV-1 tanks showed that Soviet engineers were much better at implementing thick shell-resistant armour and powerful tank engines. A whole commission arrived on the front on November 18th, 1941, to survey the situation. The commission included the head of the Tank Commission Ferdinand Porsche, his deputy and director of the Steyr company Oscar Hacker, head of Department #6 of the Ordnance Directorate colonel Sebastian Fichtner, the civilian head of Department #6 engineer Heinrich Kniepkamp, and high ranking representatives of leading arms companies: Krupp, Daimler-Benz, Henschel, MAN, and Rheinmetall. They examined Soviet tanks and evaluated the harsh conditions of winter and the lack of roads.

No one doubts that this examination had a significant effect on further development of the German tank school. But what were their conclusions? How did Soviet tanks influence German tank building? There are many different opinions about this, right down to calling the Panther a poor copy of the T-34. What was the real change to the German way of building tanks after the fall-winter of 1941?

Friday 11 June 2021

In Defense of the Panzer IV

With the debut of the Panther in 1943 the Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV were threatened with cancellation. Their chassis would be used to make StuGs, a vehicle that could not be replaced with the Panther. However, Guderian himself wrote a treatise in defense of the humble Pz.Kpfw.IV.

"Notes for the Fuhrer's report (September 5th, 1943)

Pz.Kpfw.IV tank or assault gun?

Despite arriving reports, the assault gun has practically no advantages over the Pz.Kpfw.IV tank, as the assault gun:

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Fathers of the SU-152

 "Order to the People's Commissariat of Tank Production #764s
November 13th, 1942

On the creation of an SPG design group

In accordance with the order issued by People's Commissar of Tank Production comrade I.M. Zaltsman on the creation of SPGs on the KV and T-34 tank chassis, I order to:

  1. Create an SPG design group within the Kirov factory's design bureau, as the factory is a producer of both T-34 and KV tanks.
  2. Appoint engineer Lev Sergeyevich Troyanov to the position of Deputy Chief Designer of Tank Production at the Kirov Factory. Task him with leading the SPG design group.
  3. Director of the UZTM factory comrade Muzrukov must permanently transfer designers Kurin, Ilyin, Rybin, and Vishnyakov to the Kirov factory by November 15th, 1942.
Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, Kotin"

Monday 7 June 2021

Armoured Confusion: Start of the Great Patriotic War

One of the most popular topics of discussion in Soviet tank circles is their use in the Great Patriotic War. As strange as this may sound, the production and use of Soviet tanks during the war is not a very well studied topic. This is caused by shallow surface level research and resilience of "common knowledge", little of which overlaps with any facts. There are so many of these myths that it's impossible to cover them all in a single article. Let's examine only the first half of the Great Patriotic War and misconceptions linked to this period.

Friday 4 June 2021

Book Review: Soviet T-62 Main Battle Tank

It's easy to dismiss the T-62 tank. It was not produced in the numbers that its predecessors, the T-54 and T-55 enjoyed, nor did it have the technical novelties of the T-64 tank that came just a few years later. Discussion of this tank in Western sources usually boils down to a list of its drawbacks and a brief description of its lackluster performance in various Middle Eastern wars. Nevertheless, the tanks were used well into the 21st century not only by Soviet client states, but even by ex-Soviet nations, despite availability of more recent vehicles. The latest book by James Kinnear and Stephen "Cookie" Sewell takes a look at why this is the case.

Wednesday 2 June 2021

War Plans

The Red Army was undergoing a pretty radical reorganization in the summer of 1941. Fans of the theory that the USSR was about to attack Germany and Hitler merely delivered a preemptive strike will be disappointed to find out that not only did the Red Army not consider itself in any situation to fight a war in 1941, 1942 wasn't looking much better either. Compare the number of tanks on hand to the number of tanks required according to authorized strength.

Tank type

Authorized strength

On hand as of Jan 1st, 1941

% Authorized strength as of Jan 1st, 1941

Expected inventory as of Jan 1st, 1942

% Authorized strength as of Jan 1st, 1942







































































Armoured cars









Total as of January 1st, 1941: 22,530 tanks (of those 59 T-35 and 443 T-28), 4461 armoured cars

Via Yuri Pasholok